Weekend Trip: Milan

So now for the second leg of my pre-finals trip! After a early morning train from Geneva, we arrived in Milan!

I am so happy that I was able to visit Italy this semester because I took a trip around Rome, Positano and Capri with my family a few summers ago. I loved exploring Italy and couldn’t wait to see what Milan was like.

The trip got off to a rocky start when one of my friend’s wallets was stolen on the metro on our way to our air b&b. Fortunately she still had her passport with her and kept a great attitude the whole trip! Shout out to Greer Richey for being a true superstar (check out her blog about it here).

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So now for some good stuff: Milan was incredible! Seriously one beautiful city. Our Air b&b was in a great location, right next to the Duomo and it was super easy to walk everywhere around the city!

We spent a good amount of time walking through the Galleria and admiring the designer stores. It is true folks, Milan is the fashion capital of the world for a good reason. Although the prices were way out of my budget, I had fun looking at the couture fashion.

 

 

We then walked to the Sforzesco Castle and meandered around the grounds. My favorite part was the architectural juxtaposition in Milan. I walked past modern skyscrapers and ancient ruins all in one day! We took some time enjoying nature in Sempione Park, which reminded me a lot of Central Park in New York City.

Walking through the park we ended up at the Arco della Pace. No, these pictures were not taken in Paris! Although at first glance the arch looked very Parisian, this was in fact constructed in 1838 and its origins can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome!

So a thing that we do in all European cities is, we climb things! Yup, just like in Geneva, my friends and I decide to wake up early on Monday morning to climb the 919 steps of the Duomo. The view was amazing from the top and made this one of my favorite things I have climbed in Europe.

If you visited Italy and didn’t take a picture of your food, did you even go? Well, I unfortunately ate most of my food so fast that I forgot the all important food picture. Instead I only have this one pizza picture, but let me assure you that the food in Milan was spectacular! Seriously, after eating Italian food in Italy you can never go back to Dominos, at least not right away!

Well, that is it! My semester abroad is winding down, but I still have a few more trips planed, so stay tuned!

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Things No One Tells You About Studying Abroad in the UK

Ok, so I’ll admit that most study abroad blogs (mine included) focus on the beautiful, crazy, amazing adventures and glorify studying abroad. Yes, I have loved my time abroad, but there are a few things that most people gloss over when writing their blogs. So here is a list of things no one tells you about studying abroad in the UK:

  • There is a lot of planning involved- you don’t just magically go places on weekends, it is up to you to sort out all the details about transportation, lodging, food and so on- Google docs and skyscanner will become your best friends!
  • You actually have to study- yes as silly as that sounds, you will always be a student first and a world traveler second.
  • You will need to seriously budget your money- know your preferred method of payment and check with your bank about foreign transactions fees, these can really add up
  • You will miss things at home- just because you aren’t there doesn’t mean that your friends and family pause their lives. You will miss family holidays and school events and that can make you very homesick
  • Senior Housing- you will have to sign leases while abroad and it can get very complicated
  • Coordinating with friends in different countries is hard, but make time to do it
  • It is ok to be homesick and it is also ok to not want to go home
  • It can get really cold here really fast- remember a warm coat or two
  • Don’t expect to become an expert in four months- take your time being a tourist and don’t be ashamed of it
  • Planning on celebrating Thanksgiving with some good old pumpkin pie? think again, it is extremely difficult to find canned pumpkin in the UK
  • You will never get used to how early the sun sets in the winter
  • Cross the street will always be a dangerous adventure- they drive on the other side of the road remember
  • Even if the UK seems similar to the US culture wise, the UK school system is much different!

Well those where just a few little tips that I think are helpful for anyone planning on studying abroad in the UK. But don’t let this scare you, I have had a fantastic time in Edinburgh so far and wouldn’t change it for the world!

Weekend Trip: Isle of Skye

Hi again!

I just got back from an absolutely amazing trip to the Isle of Skye this weekend! I could not find the words to describe just how stunning this trip, so I made a little video to document my weekend!

 

Stay tuned for my next blog post!

Weekend Trip: Amsterdam

This weekend concluded 3 straight weekends of traveling! With midterms coming up soon, I think my brain and my bank account need to take a little break. Anyways, I had a fabulous time in Amsterdam this weekend, here are a few of the highlights from my trip!

Vondelpark

 

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to start our day! After a 15 minute tram ride we ended up in Vondelpark. We had a great time walking around the park and could not have asked for better weather!

Waffle eating

 

After working up an appetite walking around the park, I stopped at a little street vendor to get Amsterdam’s world famous Sugar Waffle. This was quite possibly the most amazing waffle I have ever had and I ate it in a record breaking 2 minutes 🙂

Amsterdam Sign

If you didn’t take a cute pic at the Amsterdam sign, did you even go to Amsterdam?? Well I am never one to turn down a photo shoot so I loved this and lucky for me there was a T to sit on! Some people where really brave and climbed the letters to sit on top of them, but knowing my lack of coordination, I settled for a pic on the ground.

Heineken experience 

The Heineken experience was definitely an experience! We first walked through the interactive museum about the history of the beer and then went on a little ride as if we where brewing beer. And most importantly we got to sit on the Heineken thrown (pictured above) which I guess makes us “Heine-Queens”

Dam Square

Then we walked around Dam Square in the city center. This was super cool because the architecture was amazing! Some of the buildings almost seemed like the where slanting toward the street and they looked so old, they might have been!

Canal Boat Tour

The number one thing you absolutely need to do if you visit Amsterdam is go on a canal tour! We took a pizza dinner tour at night and it was my favorite part of the weekend! The canal is the best was to see the city and at night it was stunning!

Well that is it for now! Stay tuned for a Edinburgh post soon about all the fun things I have been up to here this semester so far!

A Weekend in Copenhagen

This weekend I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark!  It was a great weekend trip and I could not have asked for better weather!

The weekend began on a dark Friday morning at 5:00 A.M. in Edinburgh as my friend and I traveled to the airport for our 7:00 A.M. flight to Denmark. After a 1 hour plane-ride nap, we arrived in Copenhagen.

Here are some highlights from my trip:

Friday

Rosenborg Castle

This stunning Castle was super close to our hostel in a beautiful park area. The mote around the castle had a bunch of extremely friendly swans and ducks swimming around the water. Being the budget conscious travelers that we were, we didn’t pay to see inside the Castle, but walking around the outside was just as stunning.

Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens were one of my favorite places in all of Copenhagen! There are multiple greenhouses filled with tropical plants and a spiral staircase you can take to walk around the top level of the garden. Word to the wise, tropical plants require tropical weather, so make sure to take your jacket off before entering the greenhouse!

King’s Garden

The gardens surrounding Rosenborg Castle and the Botanic Gardens were an idillic oasis from the bustling city center. We followed the meandering path through the gardens and across a quaint little bridge over a stream.

National Gallery of Denmark

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This museum was incredible! Although I didn’t buy a ticket to see all the exhibits, I did see the free exhibit focused on the refugee crisis around the world. I loved the exhibit because there were so many different things to read, listen, and watch.

GoBoating on the Canal

It is my firm opinion that the BEST way to truly see Copenhagen is by boat. Goboat is this amazing company that lets you rent boats on an hourly basis and drive them around the many canals of Copenhagen. This beatiful boat ride was the highlight of my weekend!

Saturday

Paper Island

I got lunch at Paper Island and I am still dreaming about that food. Hundreds of tiny food stands line the walls of this giant building and the possibilities are endless!

Nyhavn

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When you think of Copenhagen you imagine vibrant houses along a rippling canal, right? Well, Nyhavn is exactly that! I had a great time walking around and taking in my surroundings. I couldn’t help but think back to the similarly color townhouses of Georgetown and the fall foliage of D.C.

But the fun didn’t stop there! Check out my next blog post for a surprise day trip to Sweden!

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip Wrap Up

Well folks, we did it! We drove all the way across the country and finally made it to Seattle, WA!

We have learned so much this past week and want to pass on some tips and tricks for traveling cross-country. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at what it really takes to road trip in style:

When you see a gas station, fill up your tank!

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Even if it is just a couple of gallons, it is better to be safe than sorry, who knows when you will see the next gas station (head up: it could be a long long time if you are in Wyoming)

If you are feeling tired, change up your soundtrack

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We listened to Hamilton (several times), Taylor Swift, and a whole lot of One Direction.

Pack a cooler

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Make sure you bring plenty of food! We brought a ton of apples, chips and pop corn.

If your hotel has free breakfast included, eat it! 

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By day 2 or 3 we really got our mornings down to a science. Wake up, pack the car, and then go eat our free hotel breakfast! You can count on a decent waffle most places.

Take a bunch of pictures

Or even better, blog about your travels!

Visit Some Corny Billboard Attractions

The Mid West is full of billboards advertising the same few place over and over again, seriously there is a billboard for Wall Drug over 500 miles away from the actual store. We stopped by Wall Drug and the Corn Palace (both in  South Dakota) and had a blast! These stops don’t take that long and are usually right off the highway.

Buy a few small souvenirs to give to friends and family

Don’t go crazy and buy everything in the gift shop, but purchasing a few small things can be a great way to share your travels with others!

Clean your windshield when you get a chance

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When traveling across the country, the windshield of your car will become a bug magnet, for the sake of the car window Instagram, clean it off! Or even better, go to car wash at the end of your journey and show your vehicle some love!

 

Thanks for following us on our journey across the country this summer, we had so much fun blogging along the way!

Road Trip: Day 6

On day 6 of our Road Trip Adventure, we woke up in chilly Big Sky, Montana, where it was a mere 39 degrees outside. We put our warmest sweatshirts on, loaded up the car, and got back on the road again, this time heading for Spokane, Washington.

After we were reunited with our favorite road, 90 West, which we have been traveling on this entire trip, we listened to the complete Hamilton soundtrack (again)! We drove through the northern part of Idaho, and after 7 hours we arrived in Spokane, Washington!!

We checked into our hotel and then set off to Liberty Lake for our mountain zip line tour! We had been looking forward to this activity all week and were very excited (and a little nervous) to go! After we arrived at the Mica Moon Zip Line office and went over some safety stuff, we set off to the mountain. Our guide drove us up a very bumpy (but fun!) mountain road in a van, and then we got out and put our helmets and harnesses on. Our guides then loaded us into UTVs and drove us up an ever bumpier but much more fun road to the top of the mountain. Think Indiana Jones – that’s basically how we travelled 🙂

We started off on some smaller, lower zip lines, later progressing to longer and higher ones. Each zip line had a fun name and story behind it, and our guides made us do some silly actives during our zips, like singing or dancing. In fear of dropping our phones and losing them forever, we did not take any pictures on our zip line tour, but check out this video below from the Mica Moon company!

The last two zip lines were our favorites. We were around 500 feet off the ground and potentially going 50 mph. The views from the zip lines were amazing! We had so much fun zipping around the mountain and totally recommend the Mica Moon tour!

After the tour we stopped at Chipotle and got some much needed dinner. We then headed back to the hotel and prepared for the last leg of our journey to Seattle.

Stay tuned for some posts about our time in Seattle as well as a behind the scenes look at what it really takes to drive across the country!

 

Road trip:Day 5

Sorry for the late post, day 5 was just so full of adventure we feel asleep right away and didn’t have time to write. Anyways, like I said, day 5 was so much fun!

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We started the day in Cody, Wyoming and after an amazing breakfast at our hotel headed off to Yellowstone National Park.

 

We entered the park through the East entrance, and after about a 30 minute drive happened upon some park wildlife. Yes folks,  we saw a bear! It was walking around a hill on the right side of the road.

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After we took some pictures of the bear from the safety of our car we continued driving through the park until we saw a bunch of cars pulled over in front of us. There was a pack of wild bison drinking water 50 feet from us! (Ali is kinda obsessed with Bison, and Tori is kinda scared of them). We walked a safe distance toward them and snapped a couple of pics!

We continued through the park and stopped at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Fun science fact: a geyser is a hot spring in which water intermittently boils, sending a tall column of water and steam into the air. Yellowstone is full of really awesome Geysers! Here is a video we took!

We drove over the continental divide (kinda underwhelming) and stopped at Cascade Falls to have lunch. We ate in the parking lot in fear of the bears (for Tori at least) and then started the Lone Star Geyser Hike. This was about a 5 mile roundtrip hike with a beautiful river next to it. Once we made it to the Geyser, to our dismay, it was 2 hours till the next eruptions. Another fun science fact: Geysers usually erupt on a timed schedule that can range from minutes to hours. We took some pictures of the Lone Star Geyser, but sadly decided to continue on our Yellowstone adventure rather than wait for the eruption.

Next we got ice cream while we waited for Old Faithful to erupt. Old Faithful is one of the most popular attractions at Yellowstone and had many information available for best viewing the eruptions. While we waited about 40 minutes we got ice cream and walked around the area. The wait was worth it when we finally saw the eruption! Here is a video!

After that we visited the Grand Prismatic Spring. It was a rather windy day, so the steam coming off of the springs was kind of in our face. We decided that the steam smelled like a mixture between hard-boiled eggs and ham! Anyways, the Grand Prismatic Spring was really cool because it was rainbow colored!

Our last stop in the park was the Fountain Paint Pot. This was a collection of mud and rock geysers of all shapes and sizes. Here’s a video we took of one!

We ended our day in Big Sky Montana. We got dinner near the mountain and then immediately fell asleep in our super comfortable hotel beds!

Stay tuned for the next (late) post!

 

Road Trip: Day 4

Greetings fans! We have passed the halfway point of our Westward journey. Today, we left Hill City, SD and headed to Wyoming! So many sights to take pictures of 🙂

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We drove across the SD-WY border and into the Bighorn National Forest. After spotting some buffalo (Ali’s dream come true!), we drove over some mountains (Tori was too scared, so Ali took the wheel). We stopped for lunch at Shell Falls, since we obviously wanted to keep the waterfall trend alive.

We received numerous warning signs about the “very high” fire danger, which was a bit unnerving . However, the only things on fire were our snapstories 😉

We continued to Cody, WY to find our hotel for the night. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, our planned lodgings for the night turned out to be a trailer park (hotels.com can be misleading folks!). Luckily, a nearby Best Western had an open room, and we quickly relocated.

After resolving the stressful hotel situation, we ate a delicious dinner at The Millstone Pizza Company & Brewery in Cody. Real food is amazing (we have been living off our Trader Joe’s run from last Saturday in MA).

After dinner, we made our way to the famous Cody Nite Rodeo (did you know Cody is the rodeo capitol of the world?!). This rodeo was everything we ever dreamed of. Cowboys as far as the eye can see, cowgirls in sparkly pink outfits riding around with flag-style advertisements for local establishments, bucking horses, bucking bulls, and even some clowns. Our only regret was leaving our ten-gallon hats at home – we had to settle for some classic Western braids instead.

After some pre-rodeo rituals, including some bad jokes, a stadium-wide prayer (“It’s a shame prayer has been removed from our schools and government, but they can’t take it from our hearts” – Rodeo announcer), the National Anthem, and cowgirl horseback flag-advertising, the rodeo officially started. We were in awe of the cute cowboys who managed to hang onto bucking horses and bulls with only one hand! We witnessed a few nasty falls (the child devision was a bad idea – stay in school kids!), but overall it seemed like an awesome athletic event. Apparently there is even college-level rodeo out here #America

Check out some of our epic rodeo videos:

The rodeo really tired us out – check back tomorrow to hear about our adventures in Yellowstone!